Iconic comedian Sid Caesar has passed away, so read these words from his former writer.
Photo: CBS via Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014
Last year, we had the chance to speak with comedy legend Mel Brooks. A part of the conversation that didn't make it into the story was about Mel's old boss, Sid Caesar. Mel - along with Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, and, on several specials, Woody Allen - was a writer for Sid's sketch comedy program, Your Show of Shows. (Take a few minutes to watch this classic skit.) With the sad news that Sid Caesar passed away Wednesday, we thought we'd share Mel's wonderful words. RIP, Mr. Caesar.
"Sid Caesar probably set me back five years as a performer. You’d say, 'Why?' Because he was so damn good, there was no need for me to perform. He could do anything and do it better than I ever could! And I recognized that. I said, 'I’m not going to do that show with a genius like Sid Caesar there,' so I said, 'I’ll just write the damn thing, and I’ll be happy to see it.' Usually, when you’re a writer, you hope the performer will meet the material, that they'll just get it right. Don’t embroider it, don’t do anything fancy with it, just meet it. But with Sid Caesar, he always brought it up. He always raised the material with his performance, it was amazing. He was one of the few comics that ever did that for me in my life.
"He was also maybe the strongest comedian who ever lived, physically. One time, we were going to lunch and Woody Allen picked a restaurant on 54th street. Sid had this ’41 tank Cadillac, and he always parked it in this one spot in front. So, we pull up and there’s a yellow bug, a Volkswagen, in his spot. He doesn’t waste a minute. He says, 'I’m going to pull over and I’m going to park here for a minute.' I said, 'What are you going to do?' He says, 'Never mind.' He steps out of the car - this is all true; I don’t think I’ve told this to anybody - he gets out of the car, walks over to the Volkswagen, picks up the front of it, puts it on the sidewalk, walks over to the back and puts the back on the sidewalk, and then he pulls into the spot! And I’m sure the guy came out of the restaurant and went, 'How the hell did this happen? How am I gonna get back in the street?' But anyway, he did that and parked, he didn’t say a word. He went in, he wasn’t angry or anything. He knew he could do it. I don’t know how many people could do that. That’s how strong he was. He was amazing. Good memories."